Denver radio fixture Steve Kelley joins right-wing lineup at KNUS

Steve Kelley, who hosted KOA’s morning radio show for 19 years, is now hosting a morning-drive program on right-wing KNUS (710 AM) weekdays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The show, Kelley says, will be take more in-depth looks at topics than KOA’s morning show, which he called a “news carousel,” but his show won’t be “riding the horse until its legs drop off,” like Peter Boyles can do on KHOW during the same time slot.

“I don’t think you can do justice in a two-minute interview, and KOA is bound by the format,” said Kelley. “I like it. I’ve been in that format. It’s a fast-moving, fast-paced kind of thing. But I’m not doing that.”

He says his show, Kelley and Company, isn’t designed to be political. But he’ll “respond to something that’s edgy,” like an “outrageous comment by Maxine Waters,” which was at topic on the air this morning.

Also today, Kelley lashed out Obama, saying, among other things, “We don’t need a 10-day drum roll for your big jobs plan” and “this president has already played more golf than President Clinton and Bush.”

Still, he says he’ll try to present both sides of political issues, in contrast to the programming currently on KNUS, whose weekday lineup includes Bill Bennett, Dennis Miller, Dennis Prager, Mike Gallagher, Hugh Hewitt, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, and nary a left-leaner.

The hard right view is what you’d expect from KNUS owner Salem Communications, whose founders, Stuart Epperson and Edward Atsinger II, are major funders of evangelical and right-wing causes.

The company owns 95 radio stations, including one or more stations in all but two of the top 25 U.S. markets, according to the company website.

I asked Kelley if there was pressure to push a conservative agenda on his show?

“No, certainly not from management,” Kelley says, acknowledging that it’s a conservative station “without question.”

“I think they like me because I tend to have a more conservative approach. I would call myself a common-sense conservative.”

Kelley’s KOA job ended when he moved to television to anchor Fox 31’s morning program. But at the end of 2008, his contract wasn’t renewed in the wake of the merger between Channel 2 and Fox 31.

What’s Kelley been doing since leaving Fox?

“I’ve been living off the government teet, which was very very difficult,” he says. “I didn’t want to take unemployment for six months. I just thought other people could use it more than I can. I thought I’d land somewhere. It was devastating financially, and then I decided to do this unemployment thing.”

A lawsuit against Fox was settled out of court.

“Ninety-eight percent of all lawsuits are settled out of court,” Kelley says. “I was determined; this one’s not going to. I felt wronged and lied to, and I needed to clear my name. The Settlement was significant, but not nearly what I lost. It cost me, I’m not afraid to tell you, well into a million dollars. It’s tough.”

Kelley had hoped to return to KOA, which he considers “family,” but there were “no openings that I fit.”

“It was KNUS, though, that continued to say, we really, really want you. We need a morning show here. The more and more I kept putting this off, it was pretty clear that it’s good to be wanted. And these guys, hey, it’s a blank page. We want you to do what you want to do. I couldn’t do that on KOA.”

“Anything that occurs to me. Hey, did you see this. Let’s talk about it.”

During a recent recent morning, the show aired a piece on I70 traffic, an interview about Rockies pitcher Nicasio, a stock update from an advertiser, a mention that Anthony Weiner “has been erased from the menu at the Queens Deli,”  a story about a mayor who had a 20-ton boulder dumped on his ex-wife’s lawn. Weather. Traffic.

“It’s still a cake that’s not fully baked. We just put it in the oven. We’ll see how it comes out. I think within 6 mmths or a year we’ll see if this finds an audience.”

“What really is most exciting is the chemistry,” he said speaking of  on-air colleagues Bill Rogan and Murphy Wells. “You can’t force chemistry. You just can’t. I’ve been part of shows where the egos are so big.  The chemistry makes work enjoyable. And I haven’t felt that in a long, long time, certainly not in television. It’s sad.”

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